Wealth Podcast Post

Debt Collection with Taylor Kosla

George Grombacher December 30, 2021

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Debt Collection with Taylor Kosla

LifeBlood: We talked about debt collection, consumer rights, the federal and state laws protecting consumers and how they work, how you can proactively manage your credit, and what to do when you find discrepancies or are dealing with creditors with Taylor Kosla, Partner at Agruss Law Firm.  

Listen to learn how often to review your credit report and what to watch out for!

For the Difference Making Tip, scan ahead to 19:51!

You can learn more about Taylor at AgrussLawFirm.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Thanks, as always for listening!  If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review wherever you listen and subscribe as well. 

You can learn more about us at MoneyAlignmentAcademy.com, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Facebook or you’d like to be a guest on the show, contact George at Contact@GeorgeGrombacher.com.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Taylor Kosla

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Come on

wouldn’t let this is George G. And the time is right. welcome today’s guest strong a powerful Taylor Kassala Taylor, how you ready to do this?

Taylor Kosla 0:20
I’m ready.

george grombacher 0:21
All right, let’s let’s go. Taylor is a partner at AGRIS law firm their consumer rights and personal injury firm who are putting people first excited to have you on. Taylor, tell us a little about your personal life more about your work and why you do what you do.

Taylor Kosla 0:37
I’m excited to be here today. Your law firm is a personal injury and consumer rights firm like you just said, we typically represent consumers who are harassed by debt collectors, and individuals and families who have suffered an injury or lost due to an accident. Our consumer rights practice focuses on that collection harassment and inaccuracies on credit reports. Both are federal laws that apply to every state. So everyone is protected by these laws are called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. And then with respect to the personal injury, we primarily handled cases in Illinois. We’re located in Chicago, I personally am licensed in Wisconsin as well. And my partner, Mike a, Chris is licensed in California. So we do have a broad personal injury practice as well.

george grombacher 1:37
Nice. Interesting that the the, the debt collection, consumer rights, those are federal laws, is that common or uncommon?

Taylor Kosla 1:51
So it says a lot applies to everyone. However, certain states, including Wisconsin, Florida, Texas, California, and a handful of others have their own state protections. So you can bring a case in any district court, which is a federal court across the nation. But if you live in one of those states, like Florida, where they have their own statute, you can oftentimes bring the case under both statutes and get doubled damages.

george grombacher 2:24
Okay, so I imagine people do that.

Taylor Kosla 2:28
Absolutely. You know, these laws were created by state legislators to protect their residents and people in their states and you should certainly take advantage of those protections provided to them.

george grombacher 2:43
So, okay. Which which states have the double you mentioned, Florida,

Taylor Kosla 2:50
Florida, Wisconsin has one, Texas, California, North Carolina. Those are the only ones that are coming to mind at the moment. However, under the federal law, any person in any state can bring a case under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and as well as the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

george grombacher 3:16
Alright, can you give me an example of what that might commonly look like?

Taylor Kosla 3:21
Sure, debt collection harassment, common violations we see are calling it inconvenient hours. So that’s between 9pm and 8am. The consumers time, there are certain disclosures a debt collector needs to make when communicating with the consumer, including disclosing the identity of the debt collector and disclosing that the communication is from a debt collector. There are also limits on communications with third parties a debt collector, lawfully can contact third parties, family members, friends, however, they cannot disclose that the communication is an attempt to collect a debt or that the person owes the debt. So basically, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it’s a laundry list of what debt collectors third party debt collectors can and cannot do, when attempting to collect a debt from a consumer.

george grombacher 4:21
So a debt collector, if if if I owed some company money, and they could call my family, but not tell them that I owed the money.

Taylor Kosla 4:34
So if you owed let’s say you fall behind that credit card bill, that bill is then sent from the original creditor the credit card company to a debt collector or a third party debt collector to collect on its behalf. That third party collector can call your family and friends to get location information. Those communications must be limited To location information, so hey, do you know where George is? What’s the address? What’s his telephone number?

george grombacher 5:08
Got it? I don’t know why I’m laughing about that. That sounds terrible. And that’s, that’s, that’s common. And do people share that information?

Taylor Kosla 5:16
You know, it depends on the debt collector, some collectors, we see contact, coworkers, friends, family, they’re so limited on the frequency of contact with those parties, once they communicate with that third party ones, it’s unlawful to continue to communicate with them, unless requested to do so. It really depends, collector, by collector, we see a lot of collections up in New York, there tends to be like a hub in Buffalo that tend to violate the FDCPA quite frequently. And you know, violations are all over the spectrum, they can be really egregious by calling family and saying, Hey, George owes us that you better pay it, or we’re gonna file a lawsuit against them, I have this huge violation right there. But then you can have not so severe violations, like leaving a voicemail message just just didn’t disclose the name of the collection agency.

george grombacher 6:20
Got it. You said that there’s that seemed to be a group of bad actors in New York.

Taylor Kosla 6:28
Yes, there’s actually tends to be like a little hub out there for collection agencies that are they violate more frequently than we see in the rest of the country.

george grombacher 6:41
Interesting. Alright. So on the for lack of a better term spectrum of of debt collection companies. Is there a way to know how many there are? Are there people that that have a tendency to do things exactly the right way. And then on the other end of the spectrum, there are folks like we’ve been talking about who are violating.

Taylor Kosla 7:04
So there are 1000s, many 1000 debt collection agencies out there, it’s important that you know, if you fall behind on bills, keep any letters, voicemail messages, if you pick up the phone, and you’re talking to a debt collector, take notes who you’re speaking to, what are they collecting? What’s the balance, I also recommend monitoring your credit report, that’s a great way to stay on top of maybe outstanding accounts or accounts that slip through the cracks. So you go to the hospital. And when you leave the hospital, I think most people think that you get one bill, just from the hospital. But oftentimes you get several bills, there’s a bill from the ambulance, there’s a bill from each doctor that treated you maybe a physician’s group. And it’s not unusual that maybe one of those bills, a bill from a physician who saw you for a few minutes in the hospital, just slips through the cracks. Maybe your insurance was supposed to pay it, and they did. And all of a sudden, you’re going to buy a house, and it’s on your credit report reported by a debt collection agency, and you might end up getting a higher interest rate on a loan or you’ve been denied a loan because of a debt on your credit report that, you know, had you seen it early, you could have taken care of.

george grombacher 8:26
Yeah, I certainly appreciate being proactive about it. And I imagine that well, what is I’m asking you for all these percentages and stuff like that? Is it is his medical bills, are these fairly common?

Taylor Kosla 8:43
Yes, outstanding debt, medical bills, credit card bills as well.

george grombacher 8:50
That certainly makes sense. Alright, so I am, I will just use that that that example, we were going with that I have a credit card debt, and my debt gets turned over to a debt collection company, and they are calling me and I’m taking notes, and they are running afoul of the laws. Is it just my word against theirs? How how does that actually how do I prove that they’re acting poorly.

Taylor Kosla 9:26
So most communications with a debt collector are actually recorded by the debt collector. But if you think your rights are being violated, call my law firm. And we’ll give you a free evaluation. We have working relationships with a lot of debt collection agencies, and we can oftentimes get these case resolved. What is great about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is there is a fee shift provision, meaning if we prevail as the plaintiff, the defendant debt collector has to pay my attorney fees In costs in addition to damages our client is entitled to. So clients don’t have to pay us $1 out of their pocket to represent them in these cases. And we can often get them cash damages and or debt waiver, which debt waiver is huge, because it not only eliminates the debts, the client doesn’t owe it, but we can ask for it to be taken off the credit report. And it’s really a fresh start for our clients.

george grombacher 10:29
data. So in an effort to get the money, if these companies are doing it the wrong way, it’s gonna backfire on them. If they’re too aggressive. Absolutely. Yeah. And so if if, in fact, I am the victim of a debt collection agency that is doing the wrong stuff, and being too aggressive and breaking the rules, and I’m in, let’s just say that I’m in Minnesota, and that wasn’t one of the states that has the the Double Indemnity thing, can I bring the is it only in Minnesota that I can bring it or can I bring it in a different state that has the extra protection.

Taylor Kosla 11:08
So you’d have to be brought either where you reside or where the debt was incurred, where the two parties went under contract under contract together. However, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is great for consumers because of that fee shift. A consumer is also entitled to between zero and $1,000 in statutory damages, and actual damages. So statutory damages are, the debt collector violated the law, you are entitled to up to $1,000 actual damages are you’re on the phone with a debt collector, they’re threatening to arrest you have a sheriff come up to your house. These are actions that they can’t take, and they don’t intend to take. But relying on their threat, you pay them $500 over the phone, we can claim that $500 payment made in reliance on their empty threat is actual damages and recover that for you as well.

george grombacher 12:09
Got it. Nice. So, in the spirit of being proactive about things, if I am consistently checking my credit report, maybe once a year, love to get your thoughts on that. But if I’m just in in a place where I’m stuck, what are your thoughts on companies that hold themselves out to be able to repair your credit.

Taylor Kosla 12:34
So I would recommend checking your credit report more than every year, you can get free copies of your credit report from annual credit report.com, that’ll pull a report from each bureau TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, I would advise you to print it and go through it line by line because even something like a telephone number that doesn’t belong to you, or an address that has never been associated with you, those actually could be signs of identity theft, and you want to get on top of that right away. So monitor your credit report more frequently than a year. And then as far as credit repair companies, you know, I think if there’s if there’s something inaccurate on your credit report, my office can help you dispute it, because the other law that we practice under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and that ensures that a consumers credit report is accurate. So if there’s something not accurate on your credit report, for example, an account that doesn’t belong to you, maybe it’s a credit card account, you’re like I’ve never had an American Express account. You can dispute it with the Bureau’s and they have 30 days to investigate the dispute. And if they continue to report the account after that, or 40 inaccurately, then you can file suit. And this is another great law with a feat. So our clients don’t pay a penny out of pocket. We can bring a lawsuit against the Bureau’s and the company furnishing the information. client doesn’t owe us anything and the client is entitled to statutory damages and actual damages. And we have 100% success rate at getting a client’s credit report fixed and reported accurately.

george grombacher 14:29
Well, nice. 100%. Yep. So, okay. And is that a function of these, these reporting agencies just would rather say okay, we’re, we’re, we’re not interested in putting up a fight here. If there’s a law firm sending us these these these letters, or how does that interaction work out? How are you able to have 100% success?

Taylor Kosla 14:58
So we actually just this This consumers with disputing it, advising them. This is the information that you need attach a copy of your driver’s license, if you have evidence and just advising them on their rights. A lot of times consumers come to us and they’re like, I’ve been disputing this for six months, you know, eight months, and it’s still on there. They keep verifying that the information is accurate one it’s not. So we definitely see that quite frequently in the credit reporting realm. But if a consumer comes to us before they’ve disputed it, we could tell them, you know, this is kind of a guideline of what to include in your dispute, and then we can follow up with them make sure they got the investigation or results. And if the inaccuracy isn’t fix, we proceed with filing suits.

george grombacher 15:49
Got it? Okay. Well, that’s certainly. So you probably wish a lot more people came to you before, so they could just do it right on the front end.

Taylor Kosla 15:58
It is a little bit easier that way. Because oftentimes, consumers might dispute an inaccuracy lines, you don’t know exactly what information they provided to the Bureau’s but it’s usually enough to sell, you know, have have a valid claim at the end of the day. But from an attorney’s perspective, you know, it’s good to have that documentation that written dispute with all your evidence, so you can really prove that their investigation was unreasonable when they looked into the dispute.

george grombacher 16:32
Got it? Okay. What are some other? What’s what’s maybe some other thoughts on on how people can be proactive about managing the credit?

Taylor Kosla 16:46
Um, you know, I think on top of monitoring your credit report, it just important to keep control of your finances in general. And really coming back to the credit report is the easiest way to do that. Because there’s so much information on a credit report, even if you look at a single time, I mean, you could see payment history for a really long period in the past and maybe there was one month that the credit card company reported that you were late and you actually weren’t or maybe it’s your mortgage that reported that you relate one month and then that really has a spiraling effect on your mortgage and getting that fixed to show Hey, you know, I made this payment on time look at this check. It’s really important to just look at all the information is what is the account? Is it current, we see a lot of bank or CZ, we see a lot of inaccuracies and credit reports stemming from bankruptcy after consumer goes through bankruptcy accounts should report if they were discharged in bankruptcy. Often oftentimes, they don’t maybe they report a concept or discharge that weren’t and really the only way to get this fix is with a dispute letter. Another common theme that we see with credit reporting issues is mixed files. So John Smith and John Smith, Jr, father and son on the their credit reports are oftentimes mixed. So you know, the father’s credit card account might end up on the son’s credit report and you know, that’s that’s not accurate if it’s not the account does not belong to the sun. Again, the only way to get that information off your credit report it to dispute it

george grombacher 18:48
nice yeah. I think that that probably I imagine that happens way more than then then then then we might expect

Taylor Kosla 18:55
siblings is really common as well. I’ve had actually a couple clients who have a sibling with similar names and social security numbers that are like one number off and again, yeah, they they come to us and they’re like, you know, my brother my sister’s bankruptcies on my credit report. They’re outstanding credit card debts are are on my credit report. What can I do and in those situations, it’s almost it’s a point of desperation I you know, I’ve tried disputing it countless times, because they don’t know that they have a right to bring a lawsuit if these inaccuracies aren’t fixed after a dispute, which is why it’s important to contact an attorney like my law firm to see if your rights have been violated and we will help you protect those rights.

george grombacher 19:43
Nice. Well, Taylor given us a couple already but the people are ready for difference making tip What do you have for them?

Taylor Kosla 19:51
Yeah, I’ve given it I can’t stress enough monitor your credit report. Go to annual credit report that calm pull your reports go through with a fine tooth comb, there’s anything inaccurate, something you don’t recognize, take action, call our law firm, and we’ll see how we can help you.

george grombacher 20:09
Well, I think that that is great stuff that definitely gets Come on. Come on. Taylor, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you and how can they engage with you?

Taylor Kosla 20:20
Absolutely check out our website, www dot aqueous law firm.com You can also call us for a free consultation at 312-300-5996 Our online reviews really speak for themselves so we love to help people and we’re good at what we do putting people first so please don’t hesitate to reach out

george grombacher 20:43
of it. Well, if you enjoyed this as much as I did show, tailor your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to AGRIS law firm comm it’s a G R U S. ‘s law firm comm give him a call 312-300-5996 Thanks good Taylor.

Taylor Kosla 21:03
Thank you.

george grombacher 21:04
And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. It’s we’re all in this together.

Thanks, as always for listening! If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review wherever you listen and we’d be grateful if you’d subscribe as well.

You can learn more about us at LifeBlood.Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Facebook.

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